Here are followup articles to this one, from newest to oldest:
- Warwick Police Pass My Case Up to Bucks County District Attorney, No Charges Filed Against Me Yet 13 Jan 2010
- Filed Complaint with Warwick Police (video) 12 Jan 2010
So I was out at lunch with classmates from a pistol instructor course this afternoon. As usual, I open carried my Glock 23. I ordered a sausage parm sandwich and was filling up my 20 oz soda from the fountain when the guy in the next booth turned and asked if I was from around here. Yes, I answered. Did he know me from somewhere? No. This was getting creepy. I didn’t answer him.
Who ARE you?”
Then: “Who ARE you?” Has a complete stranger ever asked you such an open-ended and personal question? It was a first for me. I had no idea what information he wanted and wasn’t about to give him my name or biography. “I don’t understand the question,” I told him. He didn’t like this answer.
Cop Threatens to Exceed His Authority
It was around this time that he claimed to be a cop. He showed no badge and wore no uniform. My instructor, who is a former cop, intervened to try and appease the man, a detective Jon Ogborn of Warwick township, Bucks county, Pennsylvania state. I kept quiet until Ogborn announced that he had to know who was carrying a gun around him, even if he had to handcuff and detain me. I replied that he would be exceeding his authority if he did that; that open carry of a firearm is legal under Pennsylvania law. Even his own department’s training memos will have confirmed in the last year that open carry is not sufficient justification for detention.
Just Waiting on my Sandwich
He got up, got in my face and became rather aggressive. I was just waiting for my sandwich to come up. I let him know I had no ill intentions. The gentleman who took my order told me he’d bring it to me so I sat down. To my amazement, my instructor gabbed with the cops (his lunch companion was a cop, too) all about me and my firearm-related activities.
This was not Right
As my adrenaline rush petered out and I ate my lunch, I realized I had just been treated inappropriately by a person claiming to be a cop who had demonstrated no evidence of it. I had no idea what his name was. This was not right. At a minimum, the cops’ own laws state they have to identify themselves to the public. I might want to file a complaint. I at least needed to keep my options open. So as I was leaving I stopped at his table. “Pardon me for interrupting but may I have your business card,” I asked.
Refused to Identify Himself
He refused! He offered to give it only if I provided my ID as well. I noticed that his lunch companion had a last name of McGurney on her sweater and a patch saying Warwick township. I noted this and began to leave but he got up and blocked my exit. He demanded my ID and when I asked if it was legally required, he claimed yes! That is an outrageous lie. I demanded to know what his reasonable articulable suspicion (RAS) was. His confidence level fell when I mentioned RAS. I guess he’s used to picking on less-informed folks. I asked if I was free to go. He said no! I asked on what basis he was detaining me. A charge of disorderly conduct! Unbelievable.
Detained on Fabricated Charge
For several tense minutes he pushed me further and further into the back of the strip mall restaurant as he demanded my ID. I told him he was assaulting me but he denied it. I refused to give the ID. He told me he hadn’t planned to arrest me but he would. He claimed I had escalated the situation and left him with no choice, ignoring his aggressive actions toward me entirely! All I had to do to be free to go was to give me ID. My instructor begged me to give it so we could continue our class. I told him, I couldn’t give it to him even if I wanted to because my hands were cuffed behind my back!
Cops Keeping Track of Open Carriers?
Ogborn demanded to know if I was a lawyer. I just stopped talking to him. He didn’t expect me to resist him this much or with such pointed questions as about the RAS. I could tell he was nervous. He expected me to cave. I did not. He confessed that all he wanted was my ID so he could write up the earlier encounter with me. This really took me aback. Does law enforcement keep tabs on people who open carry?
Cops Doesn’t Care if I Consent or Not
He took me out back where we waited in the cold for several minutes, I without a jacket – that had been confiscated. He emptied my pockets. I told him I didn’t consent to any searches and he said he didn’t care. He inspected my wallet and found my driver’s license. But of course that was never the only thing he wanted. My possessions were placed in a ziplock bag. I was loaded into a police SUV, forced to lay across the back seat with no back support. There was literally no leg room. Ogborn’s lunch companion, Kathleen (Kathy) McGurney, drove me to jail.
How Can a Human Being be so Monstrous?
At the Warwick police department, I was ordered to remove belt and shoes and left in a 4′x6′ or 6′x8′ cement cell. I have to say, this was not fun. There was a camera watching me. It had one of those metal toilets. No privacy. A dirty white towel was the only potential source of cover. The only place to sit or lay down was painted concrete. The cement floor was freezing my feet. That’s the first time I’ve been locked in a cage and it is not pleasant. How can a human being be so monstrous as to lock his fellow man in a cage simply for failing to give the required level of deference?
Good Cop, Bad Cop
After 10 minutes, Ogborn showed up and gave me the good cop routine while McGurney in the background asked if I had to be taken down to the Montgomery county scanseek (??), whatever that is. I had to confirm my current address in order to get out. He implied that if I didn’t cooperate my charge could become a misdemeanor and that could become a problem for my planned move. [WTF! He got this tidbit of information from my instructor.] He justified himself again. He let me put my shoes on. He lectured me for several minutes with his version of the encounter. He complimented me. He led me to the building lobby where I waited another 20 minutes while they processed my property and reportedly a charge of disorderly conduct which I’m to hear of in the mail.
Still Completed My Course!
All of this transpired during roughly 2 hours but I still managed to complete the pistol course on time! Ironically, at least one of my four lunch companions was carrying a concealed firearm. But Ogborn didn’t see fit to search the whole restaurant for concealed pistols.
I have a bad attitude. It simply an incontrovertible fact. I will not bow down to authority figures. This is the root of my problem. I simply can not expect to speak with cops as my equals without being detained, harassed, attacked, man-handled, imprisoned, talked down to and/or robbed. This is the world I live in. I accept the consequences of my actions. So be it. But I will never bow down.
These are My Offenses
What did I do wrong? I securely and legally carried a pistol openly. I failed to answer the questions of a person who didn’t even identify himself as a cop. I told a cop that open carry was legal and that he did not have the authority by his own rules to detain me simply for open carrying. I asked a cop to identify himself. I refused to identify myself in a situation where even the cop’s own laws don’t require it. These are my offenses. For this I was harassed, assaulted, kidnapped and imprisoned – just for starters.
That’s the world we live in folks.
What Should I Have Done Differently
I have to learn how to ignore people I don’t know. I should have ignored Ogborn’s initial, and all subsequent, questions. I should have pretended he hadn’t even spoken. This is very counter to my nature though. I’m rather loquacious, sometimes gregarious and always receptive to communication with most any kind of person – even smelly bums!
I was running with the wrong crowd. My instructor is an ex-cop. Of course he’s going to sell me out at first chance. He’s a nice guy and he doesn’t see it that way, but in objective fact he did sell me out by giving Ogborn so much info about me. I have to be very careful about who I associate with. Any but the most committed is a liability.
I failed to exercise the discipline and care necessary to audio record my daily life. Argh.
What I Did Right
I’m glad I defended myself by stating that open carry is legal under Pennsylvania law and that he has no legal authority to detain me simply for open carrying. I think being too meek with a cop simply encourages him. I’m also glad I asked for his business card because I would have felt poorly without getting the information.
I was radically more terse in my communications this time. I didn’t lecture or challenge the cop hardly at all. I remained silent most of the time. I asked if I was free to go. Then I asked if I was being detained and what for. This was good.
I’m glad I stood my ground on the ID issue. He had no basis to demand it even under his own rules.
I’m going to put in a Pennsylvania Right to Know (FOIA-like) request on Monday. I will attempt to get the police report. I will consider filing a complaint and I may have to file a counter-claim if they pursue this unfounded disorderly conduct charge.
Don’t Tell me to Take it Down
Don’t tell me to take this down because it’s damaging my legal case. My goal is not to rake the cops over the coal for a multi-million dollar settlement. That’s a pipe dream. My goal in telling this story is to inform people like me. The fact is that the constitutions, bills of rights, laws, legal safeguards, police training memos and assorted government public relations paperwork are for entertainment and decorative purposes only.
You Want the Truth?
The fact is that cops don’t serve you. They serve themselves. They have no limits. They have legal immunity for their acts. They have no legal obligation to protect you from harm! They can do whatever the hell they like, and lie about it afterwards. They can arrest you for nothing, drop the original charges and prosecute you for resisting their false arrest. It’s a scam.
Most people can’t, or won’t, see this. That’s fine. I just hope to reach the small number who can.
Photo credit: banspy. Photo license.